Fair Trade Coffee is coffee that's purchased directly from growing co-ops at a premium price, to support growers. Fair trade coffee is a subsector of fair trade certified products from around the world. Fair trade coffee farmers are required to start a grow-op with other local farmers to determine how the extra funds from the premium that consumers spend, will be spent on their local community. Why buy fair trade coffee? It's a way of fairly compensating those in less fortunate conditions for a providing us with our inexpensive daily dose of caffeine.
Where Can I Buy Fair Trade Coffee?
We offer a full line of Fair Trade Coffees - from multiple countries around the world that will satisfy both your tastes and conscience whether you use a regular coffee maker or love a french press coffee. If you see a coffee you like, go ahead and ask us to roast and grind it the way you like. We're the exclusively supplier for many of our coffees, and have partnership agreements with multiple other roasters to get you access to a wide variety of beans.
Is Fair Trade Really Fair?
There's debate over whether Fair Trade is actually fair to the farmers, and there is some basis to the argument against it. Fair Trade organizations work through coffee growing co-ops, which are groups of farmers, and not individual farmers. The co-ops get above-market price and the idea is this premium trickles down to the farmers themselves, benefiting both the communities and the growers. In practice, farmers will receive a premium on their coffee but it's not the full amount of the premium being paid - the organizations in between need to pay staff to enforce policies, and there's always potential for corruption within communities.
So does buying Fair Trade actually help the farmers? Yes. Not as much as it should, but even a 10%-20% premium to the farmers can go a long way. The growing practices and organization with other farmers also helps make each individual farm more productive, extending the benefit a little further.
Here's an interesting graphic with more data: FairTrade.ca 2012 Year-In-Review.
Find out more about the Swiss Water Process on wikipedia.
Size of the Fair Trade Movement
Though coffee only makes up part of the Fair Trade product line, the total market is estimated to be about $330 million (as of January, 2012) and growing rapidly. The majority of this is done through supermarkets and major coffee chains (the likes of Starbucks). For a far more comprehensive background, visit Wayne Roberts' blog post.
Not all coffees are available as Fair-Trade, some regions simply don't have growing co-ops established or a connection to the Fair Trade organization. We carry a large assortment of coffees that aren't Fair-Trade certified, which you can find on our Coffee Canada page.
Are Your Coffees Organic?
All of the coffees that are Organic in addition to Fair Trade are labelled as such both on the product name and the image.